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A Closer Look: Moving to Heredia

 Heredia is a major Costa Rican city that’s located about six miles north of San Jose. Approximately 120,000 people live in Heredia, making it one of the largest cities in the country.

Heredia has grown into a popular place for expats to live, where you’ll get to meet many other Americans. Bruce Thomson, an expat from Atlanta, Georgia who moved to Heredia in 2006, told Expat Interviews that he feels very welcome there: “Americans are very well received in Costa Rica. Generally, people are very, very hospitable.” If you’re considering buying a home in Heredia, do some research to see if it’s a good fit for you.

The Allure of Heredia

You'll feel right at home after relocating to this quaint little city. Heredia is a charming community in the Central Valley and attracts Costa Rican locals and expats alike. Here are a few reasons to consider relocating to Heredia.

Scenic Landscape

Heredia is often referred to as the "City of Flowers" because of the beautiful vegetation permeating the area. You'll find over 6,000 different species of plants and vegetation including bananas, numerous strands of coffee, and parrot flowers.

Pleasant Temperatures

The climate of Heredia is consistently comfortable throughout the year. Temperatures rarely drop below 64°F, or rise above 83°, and are nearly perfect year-round.

Residents see an abundance of rainfall between May and October. However, those living near the coast see even more precipitation than Heredia.

Short Commute to San Jose

San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rica and comes with pros and cons. There are many exciting things to do in the city, but the noise and traffic can create stress.

Heredia residents can have the best of both worlds. They live less than 10 miles away from the capital, so they can visit whenever they want. They also enjoy small community life, while also relishing the excitement of the city whenever they please.

Expat Jason Holland told International Living that he moved from San Jose to Heredia to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

“San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, can be, like any other big city, crowded, noisy, and full of traffic,” he says. “But just 20 minutes away, and I’ve escaped. I’m at a small hotel and spa set on a former coffee farm in the hills above in the small village of Santa Barbara de Heredia. At 4,000 feet the temperature is perfect, in the mid-70s. The sky is blue, the surrounding vegetation a lush green.”

Things to Do in Heredia

Heredia may be smaller than San Jose, but there are plenty of exciting things to do. If you want to check out the main attractions in and around Heredia, then these places should definitely be on your list.

Braulio Carrillo National Park

The Braulio Carrillo National Park is a cloud forest and rainforest near the Limón border. The area is home to a wide range of animal and plant species that are unheard of in most other parts of the world. Ray and Sue Krueger-Koplin, expats who founded the Costa Rica Guide website, highly recommend visiting this national park.

The Braulio Carrillo National Park houses over 500 different species of birds, including Slate-colored Grosbeaks, resplendent quetzals, Emerald Tanager, brown-billed scythe bills, and White-throated Shrike-Tanager.

Look for nearly 200 different types of mammals in the park, including white-faced capuchin monkeys and the white-nosed coati.

Toucan Rescue Ranch

Costa Ricans are very concerned about preserving the rainforest. Some citizens took action on those worries and established the Toucan Rescue Ranch in 2004 to save, rehabilitate, and release lost and injured toucans. The rescue center currently takes in other rainforest animals, as well.

This is a great center to check out if you want to learn more about the rainforest and offer support to preserve it. You’ll get to see many exotic animals up close and personal.

Museo de Cultura Popular

The Museo de Cultura Popular is a fantastic place to visit if you want to learn more about the culture and history of Costa Rica. You can see the types of homes that your Costa Rican friends used to live in and the relics they used in their everyday life.


INBioparque is a beautiful botanical garden filled with many different species of plants. If you don’t have the stamina to visit the Braulio Carrillo National Park, then this is the next best place to explore. It’s also wheelchair accessible.

There are numerous attractions at INBioparque, including:

  • A serpentarium

  • A butterfly garden

  • A variety of shows for children and visitors of all ages

INBioparque is open throughout the year and admission is reasonable.

La Paz Waterfall National Park

The La Paz Waterfall National Park is one of the most popular ecotourist attractions in Heredia. This site is located in Vara Blanca and is approximately a 10-minute drive from Heredia.

The waterfall and gardens touch the edges of the Poas Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. In addition to watching the splendid waterfalls, you can observe many exotic plants and animals. This national park also has the largest butterfly observatory in the world.

What to Do Before Relocating to Heredia

Moving to Heredia is worth the effort, but requires careful planning and preparation. Take the following steps while planning your move.

Determine How You’ll Make a Living

Many expats moving to Heredia are retired, but others still need to make a living and pay for their monthly expenses. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for expats to find a job in Costa Rica. The local law generally prohibits expats from taking jobs from Ticos. However, there are still ways to make a living.

There are legal exceptions for workers with special skill sets that can’t easily be filled by Costa Rican citizens. Employers can apply for a one-year work visa if they can show that you meet the criteria.

Expats can legally start their own business in Costa Rica, but you can’t perform work that could be done by a Costa Rican citizen. Starting a business also takes time, and may require special permits, so it’s crucial to do your research on the process before moving.

Many expats work remotely for companies in the United States and Europe. However, you’ll need to find a way to transfer funds to your local bank account.

Working under the table for a local business is discouraged. This could lead to legal problems for both you and your employer.

Find Schools for Your Children

You’ll need to enroll your children in school before relocating to Heredia. The local school system in this area is excellent, but your children may have difficulty adjusting if they aren’t fluent in Spanish yet.

Fortunately, there are some good, quality international schools near Heredia. The American International School Pre-K–12 located in Cariari is a reputable school where American children can receive a quality education.

There are 180 students at The American International School, and there is a 12:1 student-teacher ratio. Your children will get plenty of one-on-one attention and care. The school also accepts children with learning disabilities, unlike many other international programs in the area.

Buy the Right House

You shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a great home in Heredia. Expats are allowed to purchase homes, as long as they can meet the lending requirements.

Read this guide on buying a home in Costa Rica to learn about the legalities of purchasing a home in the area. It’s important to find the right-sized home for your family, and to work with an established real estate company.

Research the Area Carefully

Heredia is a very pleasant place to live, but faces challenges. Most parts of Heredia are considered safe, but crime is a problem in some of the neighboring communities. You may have to contend with burglaries and petty theft, depending on where you live, so make sure you do your research ahead of time.

Understand the Transportation System

The transportation system is reliable throughout the Central Valley. It’s generally easy to get to larger cities like San Jose from Heredia and surrounding areas.

However, intercity public transportation isn’t as convenient as it is in San Jose. You’ll either need to purchase a car, or prepare to schedule your life around the bus schedule. Unfortunately, taxes on imported cars are extremely high in Costa Rica, so you may want to make due with public transportation unless you have no other choice.

Are You Ready to Live in Heredia?

If you’re still trying to choose where to live in Costa Rica, Heredia should be on your list. It’s a beautiful city with plenty of things to do.

What is the first thing you plan to do after moving to Heredia? Please share your comments below: